This Valentine’s Day, we encouraged lovers to give a gift to the planet !
This year we suggested our social media followers express their Valentine’s Day love with the gift of trees. And wow, did they ever! Even The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald got in on the enviro-love, with a feature in their Take 5 section. In the end, thirty-two sweethearts decided that a seedling – which would grow to form an integral part of a living, breathing ecosystem – was more representative of their feelings than a plastic-wrapped bunch of flowers.
Here are some special messages:
- To Greg Baird from Veronica Farrell. ‘Happy Valentine’s Day to all, with trees instead of flowers‘.
- To Ana from Amber Drop Honey.
- To Deborah, who still got a bunch of flowers from Darin.
- To Miyabi Bradley from David. ‘Congrats on acing the interviews and 2 great job offers! This gift is to help towards a better future for you and me .. and all of us really‘.
- In memory of Graeme Tribe from Rebecca Condon. Graeme passed away peacefully earlier this year, surrounded by his beloved family in Ocean Grove. He was a keen and passionate environmentalist who cared greatly about living life softly. He loved living close to the Barwon River estuary and Lake Connewarre. This is a way for us to honour him and show our support to the Tribe family at this very difficult time.
- To Sally Elizabeth, from your husband John.
- To Bart with love from Steph. ‘We don’t really do flowers and trees are awesome‘.
The 465 trees sponsored by these forward-thinking romantics were distributed to 2 districts with active land regeneration and preservation projects. A mix of trees and shrubs, indigenous to the area, went into the ground this planting season, nurtured by the skilled and loving labour of countless volunteers. They will grow into habitat, help with soil stability, cleanse the water table, and cool the air.
Shout-out to Richard Findlay-Jones from Eco Enviro for contributing 50 trees to our Valentine’s Day trees.
Site 1: Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre. WA.
This amazing organisation rescues wild black cockatoos and rehabilitate them back into the wild. Due to your support, we were able to purchase 100 native trees for their grounds. Once mature, these trees will provide shelter and food for these iconic birds. Check out the website, maybe adopt a bird and help pay for its path to recovery.
Site 2: Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation. VIC.
Our second site for the trees was at the other end of the country on the Mornington Peninsula (80 km south of Melbourne). Here the Somers koala habitat project is in full swing connecting wildlife corridors from Coolart to Cerberus. Working with landholders, Mornington Shire and Parks Victoria, this project is huge. They are aiming for 10,000 trees to be planted this winter and we were delighted to be able to assist by purchasing 2,000 trees of which 365 came from the generous Valentine’s Day supporters.
Our bushland is really the beating heart of our country. It keeps us breathing, gives us life, and holds the promise of a future. We can’t think of a more optimistic gesture than the gift of growth. We wish everyone who joined in our Valentine’s Day campaign a relationship as long and full of joy as the trees they sponsored.
Writer – Sarah Hart.
Sarah is an artist whose passions include the stories and experiences of women and narrative driven work. Her aim is to delight, to reveal glimpses of everyday beauty and to celebrate flights of the ordinary. Sarah works across a range of media, with an abiding interest in pen and ink, mixed media and the human form. You can find Sarah here.
Here are 5 more ways to love the planet!
1. TRY A VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN MEAL
Cutting down on meat and dairy products can significantly reduce your environmental impact on the planet. Meat and dairy uses 83% of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. A vegan diet is the biggest way to reduce your impact on the planet, reducing not just greenhouse gases, but also global acidification, land use, and water use. This Valentine’s is an excellent time to try out a vegetarian or vegan meal, to show love for your planet as well as your partner.
2. USE LOCALLY SOURCED PRODUCE
Use local and seasonal produce, which tastes better and is better for the economy and environment. Seasonal food can grow without the use of pesticides and genetic modifications, which are damaging both for the environment and our health. In addition, locally produced food reduces the ‘food mileage’ of importing food, further reducing the damage to the environment. Find some new, exciting recipes that make use of your local, seasonal produce and enjoy a fresh and flavoursome meal, whilst helping the planet at the same time!
3. PRESENCE OVER PRESENTS
There is no better way to reaffirm your relationship and show your love for your partner than by enjoying an experience with them. Shared experiences can strengthen your relationship and leave you with special memories that will last much longer than presents. Experiences don’t have to be expensive, they can be as simple as a romantic walk, a candle-lit picnic, or a massage. The most important thing is that you get to spend distraction-free time with your partner to enjoy each other’s company and consolidate your love.
4. REPLACE CHOCOLATE BOXES WITH HOMEMADE TREATS
If it must be chocolates (this is me), remember that boxes of chocolate, with layers of plastic packaging, are a nightmare for the environment. If your partner has a sweet tooth, why not try making your own sweet treats at home. Use locally sourced ingredients where possible, and make sure to use sustainably sourced, Fair Trade chocolate. This way you can give a thoughtful and yummy gift without harming the planet.
5. MAKE A HOMEMADE CARD
Regardless of your artistic ability, a home-made card is a really sweet gesture that demonstrates more time and effort than a store-bought card. You can get creative with old magazines and newspapers, or tickets and receipts from special days out. This is a great way to repurpose old paper and give a more heartfelt and memorable card to the person you love. No one gets love letters anymore, but they are so much more special than a generic card. Take the time to write down everything you love about your partner (on recycled paper!) to give them a truly personal message of love. This thoughtful gesture will most likely be treasured and kept for much longer than a store-bought card and will show your loved one how much you really care.
6. RETHINK THE BOUGHT FLOWERS
Nothing says romance like a beautiful bouquet of red roses, however the environmental consequences of cut flowers has a less than loving impact on the planet. Flowers almost never come from local garden centres: 80% of all roses come from South America or Africa. This means energy-consuming chilled warehouse storage, refrigerated truck transportation and carbon emitting air travel. The huge demand for flowers on holidays like Valentine’s Day results in the extensive use of toxic chemicals like insecticides and herbicides to maximise output, which is damaging for both the environment and the unprotected workers. Bouquets usually come wrapped in plastic cellophane, and, unless properly composted, the short-lived flowers often end up decomposing in a landfill. Is all this worth the one week your flowers look pretty in a vase? Definitely not. Instead, why don’t you give a potted plant or flowers from your garden (or a neighbours).
Thank you to Earth Collective for some of these suggestions.
Sláinte – Colleen
Colleen Filippa | Director + Founder | Fifteen Trees